Politicians like to claim, "I believe in small-town America," but despite their best efforts (ha!), small-town America continues to disappear. The Vanishing: Photographs from a Small Midwestern Town, a photo/essay collaboration between photojournalist Lowell Handler and writer Jane Smith, documents the decline of Madison, Missouri, which happens to be Smith's hometown. Handler's shots of a Mayberry-like street make Madison appear quaint, which pretty much makes the point of the show's title: If small towns were not disappearing at a rapid clip, images of them would not seem so unique or noteworthy, would they? The Vanishing remains on display through October 1 at the May Photography Gallery (8300 Big Bend Boulevard; 314-961-2660). The gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays.
Thursday, September 2
In five billion years, when the sun has grown bloated and red and is on the verge of flickering out, the last human shall look skyward and whisper to the dim world, "Pee-wee's Big Adventure made it all worthwhile." And indeed, this poor soul shall speak the truth. Tim Burton's hero myth of the wandering adventurer is the ultimate artistic statement about the longings of the human soul. Pee-wee, as played by Paul Reubens, is the essence of childlike wonder and animal cunning, walking wide-eyed into problems and obstacles, then drawing on his own spirit and intelligence for the solution to overcoming them. Sometimes the answer is dance, sometimes flight, sometimes (and this is key) the answer is contained within friends and loved ones. The greatest story ever told screens at 7 p.m. at Webster University's Moore Auditorium (470 East Lockwood Avenue; 314-968-7487). Admission is $4 to $6.
Friday, September 3
Bicycle fanatics, the weekend is yours. From Friday, September 3, to Monday, September 6, The Gateway Cup runs rampant (well, not really; it's contained on various courses) throughout St. Louis. Friday's course encircles Lafayette Square Park (Park and Mississippi avenues); it's the inaugural race of the series and it takes place at night, so go to this one. The pro racers take off at 9 p.m., and because the course is a jaunty nine-tenths of a mile, they'll be whipping around the park (and its four 90-degree turns) about every two minutes. At top speed. At night. Yeah, buddy, that's good racing. Saturday's race is at Greentree Park in Kirkwood, Sunday's is around the Hill, and Monday's race takes place in the U. City Loop. To get yourself amped up before the race, check out www.stlbiking.com for aerial views of all courses. Oh, and spectatin' is free for all races.
Saturday, September 4
So you just missed the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia. And you were too busy to even make it to River Splash or Fair Saint Louis. Think all your fair options have passed? Think again! From Friday, September 3, through Monday, September 6, visit the fairgrounds at Spirit of St. Louis Airport in the Chesterfield Valley for the St. Louis County Fair & Air Show. This benefit for Children's Miracle Network runs from 5 to 10 p.m. on Friday, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday. Friday seems like the fairest day, shall we say, because admission is free (it's $4 to $8 the other days), but really Saturday is the day to go. Why? Because Richard Marx is playing (from 6 to 9:15 p.m. with Ryan Cabrera and Avion), that's why! And it wouldn't be an air show without a live shark show, uh, we mean without high-flying air-show performers. Check them out Saturday through Monday at 12:30 p.m. and again Saturday and Sunday at 7:30 p.m. For more info on schedules and events visit www.stlcofair.org, or call 636-530-9386.
Sunday, September 5
Going to gallery shows sure is a lot of fun, but who has time for all of them? Chesterfield Arts at 444 Chesterfield Center (Suite 130) understands. That's why the smart people there have gathered artists represented by the Atrium Gallery, Mad Art Gallery and R. Duane Reed Gallery for the upcoming large group show. From Friday, September 3, through October 24, drop by any day but Monday to see art by Kenneth Anderson, Ellen Glasgow, Brian D. Smith and Katy Fischer along with the work of twelve other artists. The reception isn't until Friday, September 17, so check out the work beforehand (say, from noon to 4 p.m. today) and save your artist questions for the "opening" event. For more info visit www.chesterfieldarts.org or call 636-519-1955.
Monday, September 6
A few pages after this, you will find a small essay on cheese (on the See/Be Seen page). You, the gentlest of readers, may feel that's enough cheese for one issue, and that, unfortunately, is where you're wrong. Because you know who else likes cheese (besides Mr. Night and Ms. Day, of course)? The Greeks! And instead of bringing the Olympics, this weekend (Saturday, September 4, through Monday, September 6) they're bringing the cheese -- in the form of spanakopites, pastitsio and tiropites. Yum! Stop by the free Greek Festival at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church (Forest Park Parkway at Kingshighway; www.saintnicholas.mo.goarch.org) to enjoy these treats and more from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. today (or from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday). Listen as the sounds and sights of Athens are brought to you by way of the Central West End with Greek folk dancers and Bouzouki Pete's Orchestra. We don't have the Acropolis to tour, but we do have a Greek church you can check out during the fest, as well as an Athens-style flea market. Opaaa!
Tuesday, September 7
Peter Pranschke's last art show, Drawings I Did in Eighth Grade, was well-received in the Night & Day offices, owing to Pranschke's obvious sense of humor and the lingering doubt that his cartoonish illustrations looked perhaps a little too advanced for an eighth grader. Pranschke's new show, Afterschool Special: Artworks Completed Since Finishing My Undergraduate Degree dispels any doubts as to the origin of the work in the earlier show. Pranschke's recent work shows the same sense of humor as his earlier endeavors, but now he has a stronger compositional technique. His illustrations sprawl across the page, creating the same sort of panel-less comic-strip feel but with a more obvious narrative structure. Fitting, then, that his works are displayed in the gallery of the University City Public Library (6701 Delmar Boulevard; 314-727-3150) through September 29. Pranschke's show opens Friday, September 3, with a 6 p.m. reception, but if you, too, have books due back before Wednesday, this is the right day to visit.